We may look back on 2014 as a vintage year for investment in early stage companies in what has proved to be a very dynamic and fast changing market:-
- Crowdfunding appears to have taken off and joined the mainstream. By the end of the year, well over £1 Billion will have been lent on crowdfunding platforms and the equity platforms are also showing remarkable growth. The new FCA Regulations appear to be appropriate and proportionate and it will be interesting to see how the banking industry responds to this new competitive threat;
- There are now a number of “challenger banks” both in operation and in the pipeline and businesses at last have an alternative to banks “that like to say no”;
- Whether as a result of these new competitive pressures or the conclusion of the long painful re-structuring process which they have all had to go through, the traditional banks are once again visible and apparently “open for business”;
- It appears to have been a record year for equity investment, with nearly £1 Billion invested in the first half of the year and perhaps as much as £1.75 Billion by the end of the year;
- The EIS statistics for 2011/12 suggest that EIS Relief was claimed on about £1 Billion of capital of which approximately 74% was in London and the South East. The figures for 2012/13 are not yet available but anecdotal evidence suggest they will show a healthy increase on 2011/12;
- London still dominates the early stage tech market but Edinburgh is increasingly seen as a major regional hub with three of the largest deals of the last year in Edinburgh based companies:- Skyscanner (US $80 Million); Fanduel (US $70 Million); and Nucana (US $37 Million); and about £25 Million of Angel Investment going into the Edinburgh market;
- Manchester has also embarked on a major new initiative with www.coangelinvestment.co.uk and Bristol now has its “Silicon Beach”. As people and businesses are increasingly priced out of the capital for housing, wages and accommodation costs, the regions will increasingly stand to benefit.
Our economic recovery is entirely dependent on innovation and investment and it is great to see that we have such vibrant communities of technology investors spreading across the country with sophisticated investors willing to support them.